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Supplements During Pregnancy

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Eating a healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy will meet your nutrient needs with the exception of folic acid and vitamin D.


Supplements During Pregnancy

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  • A pregnant mother preparing a healthy meal

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Guidance & Tips for Pregnancy

For around half of the UK adult population, diets are too high in saturated fats and sugar, and low in fibre.  For some it is also low in essential micronutrients, such as iron, folate and iodine. Modern lifestyles tend to involve less physical exercise and exposure to sunshine than in the past. This contributes to obesity and vitamin D deficiency respectively.  The latest UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey reports that the following nutrients are lower than recommended in the diets of some UK women of childbearing age:

  • Vitamins A and D, riboflavin, folate, iron, iodine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium and fibre.

Additionally, the same survey showed that about 10 per cent of women are anaemic and, depending on the season, 10 to 40 per cent are deficient in vitamin D - more women in late winter and early spring, while fewer in the summer months. Increasing sun exposure on skin during the UK summer months, April to September, will increase vitamin D levels. However, current lifestyles and modes of dress do not allow adequate vitamin D synthesis in all women. Oily fish is the only good dietary source of vitamin D, as other food sources (eggs, meat and some fortified foods) provide very small amounts.

By changing to a balanced diet following our recommendations about food groups and recommended servings, along with supplements of vitamin D and folic acid, the risk of nutrient deficiency can be resolved.

Additional supplements providing certain nutrients will be needed by some pregnant women:

  • Omega 3 fats are likely to be low in the diets of women who choose not to eat one or two portions of oily fish each week.
    • If you do not regularly eat this amount of fish each week, you should consider whether it is possible to increase your fish intake or take a supplement providing 200mg/day of DHA6
  • Iodine - women who do not eat fish and do not have three servings of cows’ milk, cheese or yogurt per day are unlikely to reach the WHO recommended intake of 250µg iodine/day. The UK reference nutrient intakes (RNI) for pregnant women of 140µg/day of iodine has not been reviewed for many years and is now considered to be too low.
    • You should consider taking a supplement suitable for pregnant women providing 140-150µg/day if you do not regularly consume iodine-rich foods. Kelp and seaweed supplements should not be taken as these may contain very high levels of iodine which can cause thyroid problems.

The following table provides an overview of the supplements suitable supplements for pregnant women, and you can print it here.

Supplements

Nutrients provided

Suitable for

Availability

Healthy Start vitamins for women

400µg folic acid 10µg vitamin D 70mg vitamin C

All pregnant women Free to those eligible for Healthy Start benefits

Limited to those CCGs where staff distribute it Not available in retail outlets

Folic acid only

several brands available

400µg folic acid

All pregnant women

Widely available in retail pharmacies, supermarkets and online

Vitamin D only

several brands available

10-25µg vitamin D depending on the brand

All pregnant women

 

Widely available in retail pharmacies, supermarkets and online

Multi-vitamins and minerals suitable for pregnancy

several brands available

10µg vitamin D B vitamins including 400µg folic acid and vitamin B12 Vitamins C, E and K Carotenoid forms of vitamin A Iron, iodine, zinc, selenium, magnesium and copper Some contain omega 3 fats

Vegetarians Pregnant women who eat little or no fish or dairy products Women and adolescents who do not eat a balanced diet

Widely available in retail pharmacies, supermarkets and online

Multi-vitamins and minerals including calcium suitable for pregnancy

several brands available

10µg vitamin D B vitamins including 400µg folic acid and Vitamin B12 Vitamins C, E & K Carotenoid forms of vitamin A Calcium Iron, iodine, zinc, selenium, magnesium and copper Omega 3 fats

Vegan women Pregnant women who eat little or no dairy products or calcium fortified soya milks and products

Widely available in retail pharmacies, supermarkets and online

Only buy supplements from a reliable company with good quality control i.e. brands on sale in pharmacies

 

Download your printable suitable supplements table today!

A Healthy Lifestyle During Pregnancy

Suitable supplements for pregnant women

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